Performance based planning is a form of planning regulation that is not well understood and the theoretical advantages of this type of planning are rarely achieved in practice. Normatively, this type of regulation relies on performance standards that are quantifiable and technically based which are designed to manage the effects of development, where performance standards provide certainty in respect of the level of performance and the means of achievement is flexible. Few empirical studies have attempted to examine how performance based planning has been conceptualised and implemented in practice. Existing literature is predominately anecdotal and consultant based (Baker et al. 2006) and has not sought to quantitatively examine how land use has been managed or determine how context influences implementation. The Integrated Planning Act 1997 (IPA) operated as Queensland’s principal planning legislation between March 1998 and December 2009. The IPA prevented Local Governments from prohibiting development or use and the term zone was absent from the legislation. While the IPA did not use the term performance based planning, the system is widely considered to be performance based in practice (e.g. Baker et al. 2006; Steele 2009a, 2009b). However, the degree to which the IPA and the planning system in Queensland is performance based is debated (e.g. Yearbury 1998; England 2004). Four research questions guided the research framework using Queensland as the case study. The questions sought to: determine if there is a common understanding of performance based planning; identify how performance based planning was expressed under the IPA; understand how performance based planning was implemented in plans; and explore the experiences of participants in the planning system. The research developed a performance adoption spectrum. The spectrum describes how performance based planning is implemented, ranging between pure and hybrid interpretations. An ex-post evaluation of seventeen IPA plans sought to determine plan performativity within the conceptual spectrum. Land use was examined from the procedural dimension of performance (Assessment Tables) and the substantive dimension of performance (Codes). A documentary analysis and forty one interviews supplemented the research. The analytical framework considered how context influenced performance based planning, including whether: the location of the local government affected land use management techniques; temporal variation in implementation exists; plan-making guidelines affected implementation; different perceptions of the concept exist; this type of planning applies to a range of spatial scales. Outcomes were viewed as the medium for determining the acceptability of development in Queensland, a significant departure from pure approaches found in the United States. Interviews highlighted the absence of plan-making direction in the IPA, which contributed to the confusion about the intended direction of the planning system and the myth that the IPA would guarantee a performance based system. A hybridised form of performance based planning evolved in Queensland which was dependent on prescriptive land use zones and specification of land use type, with some local governments going to extreme lengths to discourage certain activities in a predetermined manner. Context had varying degrees of influence on plan-making methods. Decision-making was found to be inconsistent and the system created a range of unforeseen consequences including difficulties associated with land valuation, increased development speculation, and the role of planners in court was found to be less critical than in the previous planning system
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